Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekend Jan 10th 2009 ramble

I went to see Steven Lee's "Sin City Heat" tonight at the Hilton, despite it being a long day (I had to have April at McCarran at 7:45 am for her trip back to Marquette).

A Saturday night. Slow, notwithstanding the CES show in town this week. Maybe 30 - 40 customers in the lounge. Sign of the times. They've cut the lineup back. I was expecting to see Rochon on bass. Nope. He was "there" -- on a track. Jamie was on keys. They were running at about half cast.

Don't let the overtly sexual "Come-Hither-Bootie" look fool ya (and, nothin' wrong with that anyway, given the underlying substance). Absolutely first class playing and singing. All these peeps are all seriously talented. Not kidding. Listen to an embedded live mp3 clip below.


I heard on the news the other day that the Vegas November gaming drop (the most recent available data) had declined yet again, for the 11th consecutive month. Yeah, you can see it. Every casino I've been in lately just looks and feels slow. Including the Palms.

The other day I was reading an article about recent national unemployment rates. It had this interactive map where you could click on a state image and you'd get the rate in that state for a given month. I copied some data off and threw them in an Excel sheet. Here's the subsequent graph:

Michigan is hurtin' the worst (orange), and both California (red) and Nevada (blue) are not far behind and are in sharp upward trends. 2.6 million U.S. jobs lost in 2008, worst since the end of WWII. Ugly. I just now read a poignant, lengthy article by Mitch Albom, "The Courage of Detroit":
...Any mature city has its echoes, but most are drowned out by the chirping of new enterprise. In Detroit the echoes roll on and on, filling the empty blocks because little else does. There is not a department store left downtown. Those three casinos hover like giant cranes, ready to scoop up your last desperate dollar. We have all heard the catchphrases about Detroit: A city of ruins. A Third World metropolis. A carcass. Last person to leave, turn out the lights.

For years, we took those insults as a challenge. We wore a cloak of defiance. But now that cloak feels wet and heavy. It has been cold here before, but this year seems colder. Skies have grayed before, but this year they're like charcoal. We've been unemployed before, but now the lines seem longer; we hear figures like 16% of the labor force not working, Depression numbers. I read one estimate that more than 40,000 houses in our city are now abandoned. Ghosts everywhere...

...we may be a few steps behind the rest of the country, but we're a few steps ahead of it too. And what's happening to us may happen to you.

Do you think if your main industry sails away to foreign countries, if the tax base of your city dries up, you won't have crumbling houses and men sleeping on church floors too? Do you think if we become a country that makes nothing, that builds nothing, that only services and outsources, that we will hold our place on the economic totem pole? Detroit may be suffering the worst from this semi-Depression, but we sure didn't invent it. And we can't stop it from spreading...

A recommended read. Gonna be an interesting year. I read elsewhere recently that Detroit had lost fully half of its population during the past 20 years. Wow.

Our new President certainly has his work cut out for him in the wake of the tenure of the MBA-in-Chief / CEO President.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

You may have already received this from someone else, but it is so important, I'm passing it along.

Quincy Jones has started a petition to try and influence President Elect Obama to appoint a Secretary of the Arts. Please take a moment to go to the sight and sign at

This is very important. Many other countries have had Ministers of Art or Culture for centuries. The United States has never appointed a person to represent the Arts. We in the Arts need this, and the country needs the Arts--now more than ever.

Please take a moment to sign this important petition, and pass it on to everyone on your e-mail list.

I signed it, and ask all of you to do so as well. I know this kind of thing will be way down President Obama's priority list in light of the huge problems he's inheriting, but, still...


Triple Grammy winner (and 13-time nominee) Jay Graydon just gave me permission to excerpt and play (w/analytical V/O commentaries) every guitar ride on his new collaborative CD (with the equally venerable and exquisitely talented Randy Goodrum) "Scene 29" for my next podcast. Man, it is gonna be so much fun. I been intensely studyin' all those solos. Cat is the most coherent guitar soloist I ever heard. Goes way beyond "chops," goes to beautiful melodically seamless aural painting. Stay tuned...

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